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10 Pro Photography Tips 



.1 



Make Projects 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 

Written By: Abi Cotler ORoarty 

SUMMARY 

Most new digital cameras are able to compensate for human error in different ways. But the 
art of composing a good shot requires a bit of firsthand knowledge. 

Here we offer you 10 tips used by professional photographers (and corresponding sample 
photos) that will help you achieve not just a good photograph, but a great one. Don't worry if 
you don't remember them all every time you take a photo. Your growing knowledge of 
photography will build on itself as you continue to delve in further. Most importantly, have 
fun! There's a wealth of award-winning images out there still waiting to be shot. 



Step 1 — Make wise digital decisions. 

• If you're shooting digital (and we're assuming you are), don't compromise quality — 
capture all the pixels you can. It's the amount of pixels per square inch that gives quality 
to your images, and you wouldn't want to take an award-winning shot that can only be 
enlarged to the size of a credit card. So always shoot at your camera's highest possible 
resolution. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 



Step 2 — Showcase your subject. 




• Decide what you're really taking a 
picture of, and center your efforts 
on taking the best possible photo of 
this subject, be it a person, place, 
thing, or even mood. Be sure to 
keep anything that would distract 
out of the picture. Also check the 
area behind the subject, looking for 
trees or phone poles sprouting from 
a person's head. Remember, a 
clean background will emphasize 
your subject and have a stronger 
visual impact. 



Step 3 — Get close, then get closer. 




• Try to zoom or move in to fill the 
frame with your subject, and don't 
be afraid to get close — really 
close. That way you can truly make 
an impact. Even cutting into the 
subject a bit can be dynamic and 
lend the image an intimate mood. 
Use the Macro or Flower mode for 
small subjects. Even the simplest 
object takes on new fascination in 
Macro mode. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 



Step 4 — Strive for dynamic compositions. 




• One of the most important aspects 
of composition is the Rule of 
Thirds. The concept, discovered by 
the Greeks, is simple. Imagine a 
tic-tac-toe grid across your frame, 
and place the subject at 1 of the 4 
line intersections. This doesn't 
mean that there isn't a time and 
place when you want to center your 
subject (an image highlighting 
perfect symmetry comes to mind). 
But usually, the strongest and most 
visually interesting place for your 
subject is at 1 of these 4 points. 



Step 5 — Lock that focus. 




• Most cameras focus on whatever 
is in the middle of the frame. As we 
just learned, that's rarely the best 
place for your subject, so it may be 
out of focus. To combat this, center 
the subject and press the shutter 
button down halfway to lock in the 
focus. Then reframe the picture 
and press the shutter button all the 
way to take the shot with perfect 
sharpness. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 



Step 6 — Try a polarizer. 




• A polarizer is one filter every photographer should have for general outdoor shooting. It 
works with both single-lens reflex cameras and point-and-shoots (just by holding the 
polarizer in front of the lens). By reducing glare, the polarizer gives your shots richer, 
more saturated colors, especially with skies (see the before and after shots above). Just 
one caveat: polarizers give such nice saturation by eliminating reflections, so be sure not 
to use one if you're actually trying to capture a reflection image. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 



Step 7 — Trick your auto-exposure. 




• In-camera meters try to make your subject 18% gray. But some subjects are vastly darker 
or lighter than that, so it's easy for your meter to get tricked and turn a snowy hillside into 
a dark, muddy mess. What you need to do is trick your meter back. 

• The most reliable way to do this is to use an 18% gray card like the one made by Kodak. 
To use it, place the card in the same light as your subject. Then point your camera at it, 
filling the frame. Lock in this exposure by pressing the shutter button halfway, then 
recompose and shoot with perfect exposure still set. 

• If you don't have a gray card, do the same thing with something in the scene that seems 
18% gray. This may be your own hand, a rock, or the grass in the same light as your 
subject. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 



Step 8 — Master outdoor lighting. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 




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• For stellar outdoor shooting, use 
these tips for the 3 main times of 
day: 

• Middle of the day: Harsh midday 
sunlight is especially problematic, 
because of dark shadows in the 
eye sockets, under the nose, and 
in other unflattering crags. A terrific 
solution is your camera's Fill Flash 
mode, where the camera exposes 
for the background first, then adds 
just enough flash to illuminate your 
subject. Use Fill Flash midday to 
lighten dark shadows and even on 
cloudy days to brighten faces and 
separate them from the 
background. 

• Early/late day: For scenic shots, 
the light is usually best very early 
or very late in the day. That's when 
you get the warm tones and long 
shadows of professional nature 
work. Of course, people and 
animals also look great in this light. 
You can even experiment with Fill 
Flash to balance a glowing sidelight 
from the sun where the face is 
mostly in shadow. 

• End of day/Magic Hour: The part of 
the day when the sun has just set 
or is just about to rise is known as 
Magic Hour. Its brightly diffused 
light is the darling of photographers 
of car ads and other hard-to-light 
surfaces. This even, pinkish light is 
also terrific for shooting people. (A 

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10 Pro Photography Tips 



similarly flattering light is that of 
cloudy days. A bride may be 
unhappy about an overcast nuptial 
day, but the wedding photographer 
never is.) 



Step 9 — Master indoor lighting. 





'^i 



• Indoor photography can be 
especially tricky, so remember 
these tips: 

• Without a flash, indoor lighting 
lends a funny color cast to your 
images. To correct this, set your 
white balance if shooting digital. If 
using film, buy the type that's 
balanced for your type of room 
lighting. 

• To combat harsh shadows from an 
indoor flash, try covering it with 
diffusion material. Even bathroom 
tissue or a white T-shirt works. 

• Light from a north-facing window 
can be exceptionally flattering. Try 
a "window-light" portrait, in which a 
person (or object) is placed next to 
a window without direct sunlight 
coming through and then, often, 
turned to the side so that only part 
of the face is illuminated by the 
window's even light. 



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10 Pro Photography Tips 



Step 10 — Understand program modes. 




• To control certain aspects of your exposure in order to produce desired effects, take the 
camera out of automatic or P mode, and try the other exposure modes: 

• A or AV (aperture value) mode: This allows you to set the aperture while the camera sets 
the appropriate shutter speed. You might use AV mode to lower the shutter speed to create 
a shallow depth of field (like f/4.0), which will blur the background and result in clean, 
snappy portraits. 

• TV (time value) mode: Here, you control the shutter speed and the camera sets the 
aperture. You might use TV mode when you know you need at least 1/1000 to capture a 
flock of bicyclists as they fly by your lens, but you want the camera to decide the 
appropriate aperture for that speed. 

• In both these cases, if there isn't enough light to compensate, your image may still be 
underexposed. This will usually be signified by a flashing number in your camera's LCD 
screen where exposure is read. 



This 



project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 08 . pages 



124-127. 



This document was last generated on 2012-11-02 12:16:26 AM. 



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